tv Supreme Court Books CSPAN May 30, 2016 6:45am-8:01am EDT
>> i would like to welcome you to the supreme court institute spring book fair. when i was a kid i looked forward to my school book fair and now i am lapy in the position i get to go to the law school one. here i want to thank anthony franze especially for coming up with the idea and recruiting this wonderful panel on authors. really looking forward to hearing about books i will actually want to read. not mocking law articles or briefs but it is starting to get old so i am looking forward to hearing what these folks have come up with. we have tony mauro here to led the discussion. we has been covering the -- he -- supreme court for about 36
years and there is no one who would be better able to lead the panel. >> thank you very much for hosting this and thanks also to anthony for organizing it. i hope it will be a fun event. it always is when you talk about supreme court books it is kind of a genre that keeps growing in literature, fiction and non-fiction, we had a panel like this three years ago and it really was intended to celebrate the fact that the supreme court seems to be the subject of more and more books of all kinds, and judging by the corner of my desk where i stack books about the court that have come in from publishers the genre only increased since the last of it. we thought we would do it again
especially since the supreme court is in the news more than ever these days. i am pleased with the panel that has been assembled. i have written about all of these fine authors and mentioned them in my annual list of the top-10 books for supreme court off off off officnato. i praised each of them because their books have shed new light on the supreme court which sorely needs more light. i will introduce each one briefly and start with questions, first some of mine, then yours, and we will have an opportunity to buy the books. i hope the panelist will discuss things with each other as well.
whether it is the conformation mess or justice scalia and his absence on the court. all of the authors here, fiction and non-fiction, are true experts about the court. not just dabblers who stumbled on it and thought it might be a cool subject for a book. first, anthony franze, whose latest supreme court thriller, "the advocate's daughter: a thriller" was released last month. the body count is lower for his first book, the last justice, but no less suspenseful or accurate when it comes to details about the supreme court. next to anthony is david lat, the founder of a blog all lawyers read daily. david branched out to fiction in a very successful way with his
book, "supreme ambitions" which is an aspiration for judges on the ninth circuit. david just happened to clerk on the ninth circuit a number of years ago. next to david is tim roosevelt. he has written fiction and non-fiction books and happens to be the great great grandson of theodore roosevelt. his book is allegiance. next to kim is jay wexler, professor at boston university of law and former law clerk to justi justi justice ginsburg and wrote a book about a justice going
through a midlife crisis. it has been said a book on supreme court humor would be thin but jay added to that. and finally, we have our last author who wrote a book on ginsburg. a terrific book. i will start off with a broad question asking each of you to describe your book and what special challenges you found in writing about the supreme court or appellate courts. >> i will start. by book is the "the advocate's daughter: a thriller". it is a thriller. the protagnist is a prominent
washington, d.c. lawyer who is on the short list to be the next nominee to the supreme court. he has big deep dark secret. a youthful crime that haunted him for 30 years and has been kept secret. and the book is about his daughter being murdered and his fears that may relate to his possible nomnition or the secret from his past. i am a practicing lawyer and i have cases in the supreme court and sometimes i have justice in my novels do terrible things. when you file briefs with your name and books in barnes and noble where a justice does unthinkable things it stays with you in the back of your mind a little bit. that has been my major chal c g
chlg -- challenge. but i hope recognizing for a thriller core component is mayhem, murder and mischief. that is my book. >> my involve is titled "supreme ambitions" and it is set actually in the ninth circuit one step below the supreme court. even though only part of the involve really takes place in the washington, d.c. or the vicinity of the supreme court, it is like the great white wale the protagonist and mentor is after. it tells the story of a young clerk graduate who is clerking for a judge on the ninth circuit. and oddry's wish is to serve on the supreme court. her boss wants to sit on the supreme court as a justice. the book examines what one has to do to advance in a legal profession and vindicate one's
ambation. -- ambition. it is kind of like john grisham wrote a legal thriller about jurisdiction. and the other one, because you have to strong ambition women, one new to the field and the other at the top, i like to say it is the devil meets played -- prada. challenges, i think the main challenge which the fellow panelist can refer to. i think one of the challenges was writing about the legal world. a lot is up here. a lot is mental and on paper and my book has no car chases, no
murders. so how do get people to keep turning pages which is all about filings and briefs and motions? that is a big challenge for involves set in the legal world. -- novels. >> by look is calle called "allegiance" and set during world war ii and tell the story of a guy from philadelphia who is in law school who pearl harbor is attacked. he wants to join the military but serves the physical and thinks he gets a chance to serve in another way and gets to clerk for hugo black on the supreme court. and during world war ii, the government removes japanese-americans from homes in the west coast and confines them to camps. one of the cases is decided and after the clerk goes to work for the justice department and he is in the ally enemies program and responsible for defending the
program in court. and he writes the brief for the case and as time goes on he learns more and more about what the government has done supposedly to keep him safe. and he starts having doubts about where his true allegiance lies. i was trying to take a historical episode and explore the question of what we do as a nation when we feel afraid and insecure and how we decide who we can trust and who is dangerous. and how we decide whose interests counts and who is sacrificed to make the rest of us feel safer. i do have a murder. but i faced the problem david is talking about. i ended up putting in a murderer or two. i will not tell you how many there are. i don't want to spoil it. but that was one of the challenges. the other challenge i found was historical fiction was more
difficult than i realized. my first novel was about life in a law firm. i knew that and worked in a law firm for two years and felt confidant inventing scenes. but i had anxiety about getting there details right and not having people say things or wear things they would not have worn. i had to do an enormous amount of research to have the confidence to write the simplest theme even. >> my involve is called how to learn the balance and it is about a supreme court justice having a mid life crisis. huddle is 60ish, drinks too much, he is divorced, super horny, looking for love perhaps contracting syphilis, i am not really sure. and also, we gets really into a forth century bc philosopher who teaches that rationality and
logic are not something anyone should rely on which is destabilizing for a judge who has to make decisions in cases. he kind of unravels over the course of the book and so the book is about what happens when somebody starts really doubting whether they ought to be in the position they are in, and whether the position makes any sense at all. for me, the challenge, i think was trying to -- i knew i wanted to write about the supreme court but slightly skewed so in order to do that you have to write about the supreme court in a convincing manner so it looks real and then you can twist it 5% to the left and get the reader to buy in where as if you are writing something crazy but i wanted something like reality but not write.
>> thank you, tony for the wonderful introduction. it is fun to be here at georgetown. former home of marty ginsburg who one of my favorite comments about our book is somebody said when they read the captor about marty and ruth's marriage they felt what they think they were supposed to feel when they watch a romantic comedy. i think i am outnumbered among other reasons i didn't write a work of fiction. we are also the only book that started out as a tumbler. my co-authorer inspired by the voting rights decision, or shelby counter versus holder, and specifically justice ginsburg breaking the record for decent from the bench, started rbg as a mash up of the tiny fierce, women's right pioneer and the 350-plus pound dead
rapper and the idea was both juxtapose this and how both are thinking about truth to power. it struck a cord obviously. the challenge we maced in putting together our book is how do we bring substance to this fun, irreverent phenomena? how do we make a book lawyers want to read but the non-lawyers want to read a key body work we were trying to reach? we thought we wanted the book to have the same breezy visual content of the tumbler but wanted it to be substance, do justice to the scenes to which justice ginsburg devoted her life. we had a distinguished law professor including one former
ginsburg clerk and a few other folks annotate experts. but we had justice's favorite recipe for marty and we had the rgb workout and interviewed her personal trainer. while the book is a serious accounting of the femine jurisprudence and civil rights issues she devoted her life we wanted it to be fun. so my favorite description of our book was the one in the new york times as if tall mode and a scrapbook had a baby. >> i want to just ask another general question and we will get into specifics for each panelist. but why do you think so many
lawyers write novels? why do they feel the need to do something other than law? >> i have an answer. i have thought about the connection between fiction and law practice because i teach at the law school atmosphere the university of pennsylvania. i thought this was something i had to justify and tried to justify it in terms of it's utility for writing. if you compare that to advance constitutional theory that i taught i realize this is more beneficial. but i think also maybe to a lesser extent in other fields which is what litigators are doing is telling a story. and you'vete got the two sides o have case, and there are certain not disputed, and
there are certain facts that arh disputed, and you can weave those in or out of your narrative as you want. but ultimately, you tell a story that the finder of fact finds more plausible. and howi do you make your storyy plausible? it's being able to set a scene and cast your characters correctly i and have a narrative with a good flow to it. so i think that lawyers probably feel they're immersed sort of in the world of storytelling, and it's not surprising at all to me that they want to ten out and -- to step out and get into novel writing and storytelling more proper. >> i, you know, i've been asked this question a lot x i looked into it a little bit. it's not a new phenomenon. you cand go back to the 1800s, and lawyers back then would write fictionalized accounts of their real cases for newspapers for entertainment value.
and i even found that when he was practicing law, abraham w lincoln wrote an embellished version of one of his criminal cases. so this didn't start with grisham x it's been around for centuries. myd favorite theory though about why lawyers write is david rourke called us, did a whole feature why do so many d.c. lawyers write a novels? several of us, me, david and others. and after spending time with us and getting to know us and hearing us out on why we write, the takeaway was that, you know, basically we all are a bunch of big -- have a bunch of big egos, and that's really the driving motivator. so that's one theory. [laughter] i >> i'm just wondering about the premise. ide don't -- it very well coulde that many, that lots and lots ow
lawyers write fiction, or it. could be there are lots and lots and lots of lawyers. i don't know, i'm trying to think about my friends who are lawyers and colleagues and wondering if they write fiction and hoping that a lot of them don't. [laughter] but so i don't know. i'd like to sort of know the per capita fiction writing data. i want some data! [laughter] >> well, i've found over the years that there are a lot ofa. lawyers who want to be doing something other than lawyering. [laughter]in so that's one outlet.wy they may be bird watchers too,et but you need some kind of relief from the law once in a while. so this is a question for everyone but especially the law professors. professors.
do you think fiction can serve as a teaching tool? i am thinking of kim's book which is a good way to explain the internment cases. is this teachable through fiction? >> i think absolutely. i think fiction can teach us just as much about a lot of cases and issues as you could get from an academic presentation and i think it can reach different people, reach people in a way that academic analysis doesn't because studies have shown this, i think. people tend to organize their lives in terms of narratives. people tell stories about their own lives and that is how they make sense of the world. if you speak to someone in an academic, analytical language, that is the voice in some people's head but not most people's head. so it doesn't necessarily come across as something that is
easily internalized and that they can take inside and change themselves with. the voice of narrative and fiction does. if you are trying to teach people something in a way that really gets inside them and changes the way they think about things; fiction is the most effective way to do that very often. >> i don't think my novel should be let anywhere near a classroom. >> i taught this novel to my class. >> no, thank you. that was a really fun class. i do generally agree with kim, though, that fiction can serve as a teaching tool. i think our universities have fiction writing as a department; right? or a program of study. the reason that is is because it is a particular art that people can engage in that shows the world in a certain way. it is a way of understanding the world that is different than
understanding it through income or history. those economics in history are great ways to understand the world and so is fiction. the idea of having like a program in law and creative fiction to me would make a lot of sense. so generally, yes. my book, no. >> i think your book is a good reading on why we should -- any other thoughts about teachable fiction? >> all right. aaron, i wanted to ask you about your book and how much access you had to justice ginsburg and her friends, papers and what has been her reaction since the book
was published? >> shanna started her tumbler a year and half before working on the book so when it came to being a pop culture icon she was per plexed and then amused. she had to ask her clerks who is this notorious and once known she said great, we are both from brooklyn. once it was a book, she was not apprehensive, but uncertain. she has been collaborating with two distinguished georgetown faculty members on her official biography. this was a project that was supposed to be a beautiful object, fun story, and very much irreverent piece of work.
we realized she was part of the projects when clerks called and asked to talk to us. i requested an interview as a reporter before working on the book, together with shanna, she she was officially not giving an interview for the book but a week later i resent the prior interview request and suddenly it was happening. to bring cameras in the supreme court, which you know is very, very challenging even if not an oral argument. it was a very nervous atmosphere. over time, i think she was
convinced this was a serious and fun project we got more access. the most incredible moment, we interviewed her children and grandchildren, jeffrey tube published a letter from marty ginsburg in the new yorker he wrote her before dying and every time i read the letter i would cry. it was near the end of the chapter about their marriage and it was a beautiful marriage and significant because it informed her ideas, her equality jurisprudence and optimism that men could become better partners and inspired her to imagine a world of equality between men and women including romantic partnerships. we were trying to get the letter
because primary documents was a key part of the book. we got permission from the justice to reprint letters including a letter from glori a steinman and the original letter to the editor from steven wine field. but this letter, every time asking, there was silence. and thought maybe this is appropriate. we just wanted the picture in hand writing. her son agreed to write there book before it went to press for fact checking and he said this is great. but why do you have my dad letter in this weird font? you should have the original. and i said yeah, i would love the original. at the 11th hour, we had to top the presses and got the letter saying my son said you should have this letter and there it
was. had we not had the original letter we would not know one of things we write about in the book is her perscission and love of copy editing her clerk's work. so we would not know justice ginsburg corrected her husband's dying note to her in the margins. you can see that in the book. not necessarily for research reasons, but did you talk to your justiceuct what you are writing? >> i didn't talk to the justice during the writing process. the way i was trying to depict the supreme court and the lessons i thought were imminent in the historical material did come from my experiences clerking for him and the things
he said. he did have in fluence on the book in that sense >> i septembnt the book and shee a letter saying i think it is interesting you used the word tuttle because there is a former judge from the 5th circuit and he would never have had a mid-life crisis. >> that is great. kip, i want to go back to you. -- kim. what concern did you have about writing fiction about real figures like justice black and frankfooter? you used real names of other characters like eugene greszman and others. why did you do that? was it a tricky thing to work out?
>> but if you assume that the title is an accurate reflection of what it's about, there's something that's clearly fiction as far as i know but tells you some true things about abraham lincoln, like he was a brave man who fought against evil. and it tells you maybe some true things aboutom the world, whichs the civil war was a struggle against an evil system that sustained itself on the blood of innocent people. i didn't really go the abraham lincoln vampire hunter routeng because generally speaking, i tried to have the real people in the booke do things that they really did. so my criterion, basically, for whether i used someone's real name or not was are they doing what i can verify they actually did. i get away from that sometimes, but generally i tried to have real people doing real things and fictional people doing fictional things.
but what i was trying to do with all of that was use the fictional elements to highlight the connections that i found between the historical materialr and to bring out the themes that i thought were important there. and i did think that thees resources of fiction allowed me to write something that was more illuminating, and i hope in some ways more truthful. and anthony also about reactions they've gotten. david, i know you got some reaction from nine circuit judges to your book. >> yeah. so it's interesting. i have to confess, the book is a bit of -- there are some characters in the book who we have the standard disclaimer in there, but whatever. there are some characters in the book who bear striking resemblances to real people, and that was certainly something i was wondering about as a former clerk on the ninth circuit myself. but i was pleasantly surprised
by the reaction of judges. a number of them were contacted for a new york times article, and most of them were appreciative of the project. i think part of it is, and this is a difference i think between maybe the appellate courts and the supreme court, they don't get quite as much attention on the appellate courts. so i think some of them were sort of tickled and flattered that, wow, there's a book that's kind of about us. and the genre of supreme court books is always growing, the genre of books about the intermediate appellate courts is probably not. so i think a number of them were pleased, and judge kaczynski, then-chief judge of the ninth circuit, even hosted an event in pasadena at the ninth circuit courthouse where i and a number of other authors got to talk about their work. my own judge, judge to scanlon up in portland, he and judge graver had a mini book club where they and a number of the law clerks got together and i flew out there for it.
so i was very pleased by how they took it well, even though, as anthony was saying, not all of the judges in this book behave wonderfully. but nobody really seemed to the take offense, so that was good. >> i had a similar experience with my first book which the main character was the solicitor general. and it was called "the last justice." and the character took a bribe, had an inappropriate relationship with a subordinate, did all kinds of inappropriate things. and i was surprised as well that it was -- you know, i had a former solicitor general introduce me at an event. and he pointed out all the things the character did. [laughter] so it was nice. i had a similar experience -- i had a judge send me a very funny e-mail that basically said, you know, i liked your book. you know, my one beef with it is is the judges are a lot more sexualized than in real life.
and he said, but at least that gives us all something to strive for. [laughter] and so i got this e-mail, and i said this is a really funny e-mail. i went around at all these events -- the judge said i could as long as i didn't mention his name -- and i read his e-mail, and i'd always get a laugh. this time he sent me a are kind of, i liked your book. look forward to seeing you. [laughter] so i kind of milked that aspect of it. but overall, it's been surprisingly warm reception for my books, given what some of the characters do. >> i want to open it up to the audience. wewe may have some follow-up questions but, please, let us know what you're wondering about, about fiction, about nonfiction. and current events about the court which is actually stranger than fiction, i think, in many ways. [laughter] yes. >> i'm curious how --
[inaudible] hi, i'm just curious how you fit in your book writing with your other work. >> well, i guess there are two ways to take that question. one is sort of thematically how it fits together, and in my case, i hope it does. this is a book about the supreme court, the constitution, american identity, those kinds of themes. the harder question, of course, is how i fit it in with -- in terms of time. and there the answer is i just don't do very many things, you know? i spend time with my kids, i teach, i write law review articles, and i write novels. and then i try to exercise enough so that i don't drop dead. [laughter] >> that's not a lot of things? that sounds like a lot of things. [laughter] >> well, it's enough that it's sort of a struggle to get them all in. but, you know, i try not to take
up too many new hobbies. >> i do the same but without the exercise part. [laughter] >> so i had, i have a full-time job as a reporter at msnbc where i cover women's rights, politics and the law. and my co-author, shawna, was actually at 3l during the time we were writing the book. and we were on an insane deadline. i actually don't really want to disclose how little time we had for the book. we were inspired by the fact that justice ginsburg, throughout long periods of her life, got two or three hours of sleep per night and produced incredible work, so we felt like we couldn't complain. i did take some time off from work, but rbg sets up quite the high standard. thematically, it made sense for both of us, but logistically, you know, we got the proofs back from our highly visual book the week that shawna took the bar. and they were due -- i think she took the bar on monday and
tuesday, and the proofs were due on friday, and she was going to thailand to try to squeeze in a week vacation before her clerkship. so we were just sitting there on my living room table kind of threading it all up, and then she found out she passed the bar the day the book came out. and got a nice note from justice ginsburg herself too. >> happy day. >> i guess i also don't do much exercise, and so that's the time in which -- [laughter] i write. so, you know, people, they train for marathons, and people don't ask them how do you, you know, do your marathon training with your work. and so when i -- but since it's writing and my other work is also writing, so it doesn't look so different, but i like to at least tell people it's different. it's like how people are training for the marathon. i'm in my little closet typing. >> that's a good point that jay raises. i think for lawyers who are interested in writing fiction, it can be a challenge if your
day job also involves writing and editing which mine does as a journalist and blogger. and so i found it very helpful to sort of separate out the blogging, journalism, nonfiction stuff -- and i do like to think we write nonfiction -- and the fiction stuff which is sort of drawing on different writing muscles. so i found it a little difficult to write or at least generate original material during the week for the novel. i kind of worked on a somewhat weekday/weekend kind of schedule where i did a lot of the fiction work on weekends. i might be able to edit a bit during the week in the evenings -- i would say mornings, but i'm not a morning person. i did find it helpful to have some kind of mental separation between these two things. >> question. >> ken -- [inaudible] author of the supreme court yearbook. tony began with a little bit of a dismissive comment about
judicial biographies, and i'm wondering to what extent you all have read, you know, supreme court justice biographies. i'm picturing the one of john marshall that's this big on my book shelf, and i did read it. and i wonder what you learn or what you think readers would learn from biographies about what makes a good supreme court justice, what makes an effective supreme court justice, etc. >> well, i didn't read that thick john marshall biography, i'm sorry to say, but i do think that enough of what i have read about john marshall is what makes for a good supreme court justice, which is a consensus builder and someone who can bring people together. and as far as -- also a sense of humor. you know, i saw something recently that was talking about marshall, and the court was getting criticized about the
justices drinking too much, and marshall made this rule, like, we'll only drink wine when he's raining. [laughter] and then, inevitably, the sun would be out, and he'd have an aide go look out the window, we have a vast jurisdiction, it's going to be raining somewhere. [laughter] >> we were privileged to have a lot of supreme court biographies to draw on more ours in addition to the original reporting and research that we did. but it was kind of freeing to not have to tell every story. and it was freeing also to bring a lens to it. i mean, our project is very much within this kind of renaissance of feminism that's happened on the internet. so thinking about how do do you take these serious, substantive topics, these legal concepts, and how do you bring them to people who are curious about justice ginsburg because they think she's cool and because they're feminists and they're angry about recent supreme court
decisions, but bring them a little bit into that world of the serious biographies. so we drew on biographies. there were some great stories, the most recent biography of justice brennan was really helpful. and justice ginsburg herself has done such a good job of looking back in history also to the justices' wives. in thinking, mrs. harlan in particular. she co-edited writings, excerpts from her diary, somebody that she really identified with. so we were really trying to bridge that history too. a lot of it involved looking back into history in places where women and other marginalized people are just not there, and how do we make that also part of our conversation and the current-day conversations. >> i read a lot of biographies. i mean, sort of naturally because i have a bunch of supreme court justices as my characters. i'm not sure that it taught me
what it takes to be a good justice. i think, first of all, there are probably several different ways to be a good justice, so it's good to have consensus builders, it's probably also good to have some brilliant mavericks. you know, you probably want a mix of different people on the court. i think you want a mix of different life experience and in different governmental institutions. so i think it's unfortunate that increasingly now we're just getting federal appellate judges, people who have spent most of their professional lives in the judiciary. if i had to guess, i would say i think the most important qualities for a supreme court justice aring with open-minded -- are being open-minded and willing to learn and also genuinely humble. and not everyone who tells you they're humble is, in fact, humble. but justices who do have a sense of humility about their role and reviewing the other branches of government and sometimes state governments and sometimes the views of these other government actors deserve respect. sometimes they do, sometimes
they don't. it's good to have a theory about why that's so. >> pretty sure i've never read a biography of a supreme court justice. maybe if more of them had syphilis, i would read more. [laughter] >> douglas. [laughter] >> can't libel the dead. [laughter] >> yes -- [inaudible] i've realize trouble in the balance, and i just ordered my second, third and fourth copies of notorious rbg -- >> thank you. >> you're the most valuable member of the audience. >> kermit roosevelt takes a trip down the amazon with his dad, and in the end -- well, it doesn't end well for kermit
roosevelt. how did you feel about having your ancestor and namesake used in historical fiction, and did that influence how you treated real people in your novel? >> well, i suppose -- so the novel's called roosevelt's beast, and i think it's a great novel. but i suppose it gave me a little bit more confidence in what i was doing, because i was able to the say, look, i'm not a hypocrite. here's someone who wrote a novel about my namesake, my ancestors, my family. and i think that's great, you know? there are parts of it that are true, there are parts of it that are made up, but what he was trying to do, and this is exactly what i was trying to do, was he was tried to get at a deeper truth about the character. that maybe you can't coax out of the bare narrative of facts, but that you can develop more fully with fiction. and i thought he did a great job of that. >> didn't you, in your novel, reference the death of -- >> i did, yes. there's a moment in my novel where things don't go well more
kermit roosevelt -- for kermit roosevelt also. [laughter] >> anyone else? >> was that you, marty? >> no. >> no. [laughter] well, i'll ask since we were talking about what makes a good justice, do you think we're going to get a justice merrick garland now or later or ever? any, just what are your thoughts? >> well, as -- he was a former partner in my law firm, and by all accounts a extraordinarily qualified nominee. so is i hope so. so i hope so. i will say that every nominee in the advocate's daughter, even the villainous ones, got a hearing -- [laughter] an up or down vote. i would like to think if i was conjuring a character that was going to block that process, i
might throw them in a seedy hotel doing some unsavory thing so the vote could go forward. the short answer is i don't know. >> well, i think young libel chuck grassley. he's very much alive. [laughter] if i had to guess, i would say, no. just based on incentives that republicans have to wait it out. we may have a justice nominated by president donald trump. >> i would guess, i might guess yes in the lame duck session. i think, i've been -- i was predicting judge lawson was going to be elevated, so take my predictions for whatever little they're worth. although in hindsight, the pick of judge garland was just brilliant. it's like at the end of the sixth sense where you're like, ah. yeah, i didn't see that coming. shh. >> spoiler alert. >> i think you could see it in a lame duck session. i know some of the republican senators are saying, no, no, no, but i think it's a little bit
like the government shutdown. are there incentives for them to hold their ranks now? sure. but i think once november is done and maybe we have president-elect hillary clinton, i think 63-year-old, moderate judge garland is going to start looking very good for them. you know, if this were, like, the west wing or the sequel to supreme ambitions or something, the president would nominate pam carlin or someone and be like how do you think that? or let president clinton nominate a pam carlin who's much younger and much to the left of judge garland. anyway, i think we might see one. donald trump is very interesting. he -- everyone often thinks of him as somebody who is not really going to give us fabulous supreme court justices, but he's told us he's going to give us his short list already of a dozen. and i'll be very curious to see who's on that. he's not nominating his sister who's on the third circuit, even though she became a minor campaign issue. that's not happening. but the judges he has mentioned
like judge bill pryor, judge diane sykes from the seventh circuit, these are not outlandish. these are not crazy ideas. these are well-respected judges who are pretty conservative. they're probably the kinds of judges you'd see under another republican president. so it's not like he's going to be nominating some contestant from the apprenticement anyway, this is not an endorsement of donald trump, of course. i'm just saying. [laughter] >> i think he should use a reality show like the apprentice to select his nominee. [laughter] >> they could have a robe contest, like swishing down a runway. >> i'd watch that. >> yeah. [laughter] i actually once sent into project runway a request to do a robe challenge. they never took my idea. >> well, so what, those who you have written from inside the court, what do you think the
justices are feeling, or how are they coping with all the focus on them right now and on the death of justice scalia? i have the sense that it's a difficult time at court. do you -- any thoughts? >> well, i think the justices would like to be back at a court of nine. you know, for some of them that's going to, obviously, have partisan effects -- well, for all of them it will. some of them, they will be welcomed, for some less welcomed depending on who gets seated ultimately. but i do think all of the justices care about the court as an institution, and i think they can see that in certain cases it can't do what it's supposed to do. and sometimes, you know, the court doesn't take cases, and sometimes it allows circuit splits to percolate. so even in situations where different courts in different parts of the country have said different things about the meaning of federal law or the meaning of the constitution,
sometimes that situation can go on. but i think the justices all do wish that they had a court that could reof those issues when -- resolve those issues when they want to. and sometimes, you know, we see them deadlocking 4-4, and that just means they can't do their job. >> that's got to be right, i think. plus, it must be just is so odd and sad there, i would think. i was at the court watching oral arguments for the first time in a long time last week, and just the counts -- just to count and there are only eight is a very, very odd thing to see. and i imagine that everybody must miss justice scalia, you know, just in some way or another quite a bit. his, just, presence was so enormous that it must be like a big hole for all of them. >> justice kagan spoke yesterday at nyu, and she mentioned, i think, that the supreme court was a bit duller and a bit more gray as an institution and that the justices are sad to have
lost their colleague. so it's very interesting. we are here at georgetown law school where, as we've covered on above the law, a number of professors had dueling e-mails to the entire community about whether or not they really mourned justice scalia. but i think that for his colleagues at the court, certainly -- including justice ginsburg who gave some of the most moving testimonies, testimonials to him -- is very much missed. >> i also think for the justices that are very invested in the functioning of the court as an institution above politics, this is a very difficult moment because, you know, chuck grassley gave a speech today in which he said it's john roberts' fault that they're not confirming a nominee, because he's politicized the court with his obamacare votes. which i thought was pretty ironic, considering that those votes stand in testimony that the court can be above what the republican party wants chief justice roberts to do. so the longer that republicans
show that they are unwilling to fill justice scalia's seat purely on the basis of partisan politics, it begins to kind of tarnish the court. i mean, i think justice ginsburg and justice scalia's friendship, at least for her, was premised on this idea of the court as an institution that could function despite differing ideologies and political commitments. that it was about making the institution work. i think they genuinely liked each other, and she thought he was hilarious, but i also think it was a formative friendship that was about showing we're above just the fact that we have deeply different values and ways of reading the constitution and statutes. and so for it now to come down to this bare knuckle political fight about whether it's going to be the lame duck which would be a complete abdication of whatever principle they're citing or whether it would be that there are vulnerable republicans in purple states, i personally think that the local current has always been there,
but i think it undermines the legitimate is the of the court -- legitimacy of the court to say that a dually-elected president, his nominee cannot even get a hearing or an up or down vote. >> any other questions? well, before we end, i had suggested to the panelists that if they had a passage from their books that they wanted to read to the audience and that illuminated some aspect of the court, they would have that opportunity. anybody want to take a stab at it? >> i don't have my book with me, so let me just say to everyone in the audience, if you read it, you'll find many passages -- [laughter] >> it's a beautifully written book. i reviewed it for "the wall street journal". >> i could read two paragraphs or so which should illuminate
some of the premises upon which the court acts and decides cases, some things that are is so fundamental we might not even really think about them. there's a, the court is hearing a pornography and first amendment case, and justice tuttle is the one who's going to decide which way it goes. but, of course, he's sort of worried about logic and reason and such. so the solicitor general of texas is making an argument, and she's citing some cases about various things. ed tuttle fidgets. she's citing cases, but there are others on the other side. sometimes the court does one thing, sometimes another. sometimes justices say one thing, sometimes they say something else. so what? it's all just words. he's had it up to the proverbial here with all the words. he interrupted cox's string of citations. counselor, says ed, i can't help but notice that like your opponent you insist on framing
your argument with words. does the strength of your argument rely on the presumption that words mean something rather than nothing? [laughter] ed is looking intently at cox. the lawyer blinks once, then again. ed imagines he can hear her eyelids close and open like in an early morning cartoon. the question has thrown off the cool nerve of the texas' arguer. not once did any of the lawyers playing the justices ask her to defend the human race's shared assumptions regarding the capacity of language to convey meaning. [laughter] it just had not come up. [laughter] [applause] >> thank you. >> sounds like a question justice scalia could have asked in a, at an odd moment. anyway, anyone else? >> yeah, i'll go ahead. because we were talking about justice scalia and justice
ginsburg's friendship, i was here at georgetown several years ago for the end of the term event that the supreme court institute puts on. and for those of you who don't know, the supreme court institute -- which is graciously hosting this program -- does this tremendous public service where they moot for advocates arguing before the supreme court. they practice argument sessions, and after the last argument, they have a gathering, basically a thank you to the volunteers who, you know, serve as, you know, mock justices for these practice sessions. and one year at the event justice ginsburg appeared and was honored. and justice scalia gave this very warm introduction to her. and ginsburg, being an avid opera fan, the institute arranged for some opera singers to come and serenade her.
and it was really a beautiful kind of thing that stuck with me. and i incorporated that scene into my novel. so i'll read just briefly, you know, tony asked us to get something that captures the essence of the supreme court or the supreme court community. this is more of a quirky thing if those of you who have ever met somebody in the supreme court bar. they tend to talk in their own language and jargon. and so my character is at that event, a fictionalized version of that event, and he is making some observations about that. so it says: we were spoiled at osg, cecilia said. like most of the supreme court community, cecilia spoke many abbreviations and acronyms. it wasn't the office of solicitor general, it was osg. it wasn't justice robert reeves anderson, it was rra. a case wasn't dismissed as improve departmentally granted, it was digged. there was the gbr, the cvsg, and
the list went on. an ivory tower version of annoying teenage text speak. [laughter] [applause] >> these are tough acts to follow. my passage is not funny, actually, so i may be at a disadvantage. this is a short passage, and it does, i think, capture -- even though it's not set at the supreme court, i think it captures in some ways the psychology of how do you get to become one of the nine -- out of the 1.4 million lawyers in america, how do you kind of wind up as one of the nine robed ones who are sitting not too far from where we are right now. by the way, this is funny. i kind of feel like this is what it feels like to be at a confirmation hearing. there are these bright lights, it's a little warm, and there are cameras on. anyway, this is probably the
closest i'll ever get to a confirmation hearing. so i will read this short passage. a character in the book who's narrating this particular passage, a character has found out that she will not be clerking for the supreme court. i would never have the privilege of clerking for the supreme court. a longtime dream of mine was dashed. at the same time, i would never have the corresponding burdens. and make no mistake about it, being a supreme court clerk came with burdens, the weight of high expectations. within a few years of leaving your clerkship, you're expected to enjoy a certain amount of professional success; a partnership at a major law firm, a tenured professorship at an elite law school, a high government office. if you weren't a federal judge by age 45, people would wonder what went wrong. and even making it to a coveted, life-tenured seat on the federal bench did not put an end to ambition. district judges wanted to be circuit judges. circuit judges wanted to be
particularly well-respected circuit judges such as feeder judges or, better yet, supreme court justices. i recalled what judge stintson had called me during my clerkship interview: i like to be a judge who's going places. success didn't take you off the tread mill but simply put you at a higher speed and with a steeper incline. but now i didn't have to worry ant any of that. with no hope of a supreme court clerkship in my future, i was free to just be an ordinary person. it felt liberating to have the weight of ambition lifted from me. or so i tried to tell myself. [applause] >> so in the spirit of talking about clerkships and court life, i'm going to read a brief excerpt from the chapter about some of the accounts from the clerks of justice ginsburg, of course, one of whom we interviewed for the book and who's sitting next to me. when rbg heard through the
grapevine that her clerk was dating a retired clerk for justice black mono, he remember picking up the phone apprehensively. i didn't know you had a special friend at the court, rbg cooed. you must have her up for tea. two days later rbg had set up a maul table and spent 30 minutes with the young couple. later she performed their wedding ceremony, something she's done for several clerks. i'll never forget the end, says berman. instead of by the power vested in me by whatever, she said by the power vested in me by the united states constitution. my wife always jokes if we got be divorced, it would be unconstitutional. [laughter] rbg even occasionally gets in on clerk shenanigans. allee toes clerks -- alito's clerks' persuaded him to join a fantasy baseball team. the week they played against
alito, we beat him soundly, reports rbg's clerk that year. he suggested she send a memo to alito, crowing about the victory. she looked at me like i was crazy, he recalls. he boldly slid a draft memo across the table. [laughter] rbg looked down at the page. now tell me what fantasy baseball is again, she said? she took out her pen to make some corrections. in the end, as he remembered it, the memo read: dear sam, i understand that this week my clerks beat your team by a score of 10-0. we expect more, even from the junior justice. [laughter] [applause] >> all right. well, thanks to irin, i do now have a copy of my book in front of me. so i'm going to read a passage about a checker trying to decide a case which is part of what -- a clerk trying to decide a case. it's not an easy case.
military authorities imposed a curfew on the west west coast japanese-americans, ordered them to report to relocation camps. gordon broke the curfew and refused to ais semibl. for this he was convicted in federal court. now the aclu has chosen them to make their challenge to the exclusion orders. they have chosen him because he is clearly loyal. he is an eagle scout, baseball fan, no threat to the security of the coast. but the court cannot decide for him alone, it will decide for everyone excluded. and how do we decide? i used the methods my professors taught me. the lawyers had brought me a story of a man who walked into the fbi office and told them he would not go. through those murky waters i draw the intellect. i'm looking for the bright fish of the law, but i find nothing. i'm adrift in an endless sea, and there is no law neither in the sun-dappled showers, nor the dark, abyssal depths. there are only men. i see only faces.
i see gordon with his merit badges. general john dewitt with his ribbons and medals, american soldiers standing in the camp guard towers and crossing pacific beaches. the earnest young men of the aclu and congress and the prime minister and the department of -- president and the department of justice. lay the statute alongside the constitution and see if they fit. but he must have been joking i think now. there's no law that will decide this case. the only question is whom to trust. if these people are dangerous, they can be excluded. if they're loyal, they cannot they're the faces in the story and the voices in the briefs. whose word will we accept? the japanese are loyal, the aclu says. there were no acts of sabotage before the evacuation. there have been none in hawaii. the evacuation was driven by racism and fear mongering. we did not know, says the department of justice. we could not know. they worshiped the emperor as a god. they sent their children to japan for schooling. if no sabotage occurred, might
that not mean that they were gathering for a concerted blow? advantage wakes was a reasonable -- evacuation was a reasonable measure. the pacific coast states take a stronger tone. these people are disloyal, they say. they are not like us. they do not assimilate. they have their own religion, their own language schools. they sent tinfoil home before pearl harbor. before the evacuation there were radio signals from the coast and lights flashing messages to ships at sea. raids on japanese businesses found dynamite, guns and ammunition. and on the loyalty questionnaire, they admitted it all. [applause] >> well, thank you. with that, we'll adjourn. and there's a reception and several stacks of books that are available for purchase. it's been a great time, great discussion. thank you very much.
[applause] [inaudible conversations] >> when i tune into it on the weekends, usually it's authors sharing their new releases. >> watching the nonfiction authors on booktv is the best television for serious readers. >> on c-span they can have a longer conversation and delve into their subjects. >> booktv weekends, they bring you author after author after author that spotlight the work of fascinating people. >> i love booktv, and i'm a
>> look for these titles in bookstores this coming week and watch for the authors in the near future on booktv. >> it's quite interesting particularly as somebody who lives in the u.k. to reflect on how rome and the roman empire, as it were, shaped the world. and i think there's something which is very, very in your face about the romans and britain, you know? you go out and you see bits of rome till there. you go round the country, and you see loads of towns in britain end in castor or chester, you know? that means the romans are there, because that's the roman word for camp, castor. you can see that the social geography of britain is still
configured in a roman way. why is london in such a stupid place, actually, for a capital city? [laughter] why, because the bloody romans put it there because it was convenient for them, right? so you're kind of live anything a world which still has its parameters formed by rome. but it gets more complicated than that, i think, for two ways really. one way is, of course -- and i'm talking about britain, but we could do the same about gaul, about germany. of course, our identity is not only formed by that kind of sense of roman infrastructure, it's formed by our view of conflict between us and the romans. and i think one of the most interest things about how rome works in the head of any western european is that we're always both on the romans' side and against them. are we actually thinking we are the inheritors of the romans, or
are we inheritors of the rebels, the oppressed populace. that'd be quite a good, an edgy sort of standoff there. there's no better place to see that than just outside the house of parliament on the banks of the thames. there is a fantastic bronze statue of the leading british rebel, the warrior queen buddica in her chariot with her daughters, flowing hair. as we imagine, you know, masser -- as she apparently did -- thousands and thousands of roman soldiers 20 years only after the conquest. and she's in all sorts of way a kind of proto-brittania. she's a real, she's a -- a rebel, a terrorist, an independence freak. on the base of the statue, the
kind of paradoxes about our relationship with rome come out very clearly because what it says, it's a quotation from a slightly earlier poem. the statue's late 19th, early 20th century. and it basically says don't worry, buddica, because she did come to a very stick key, nasty end. your descendants will rule more of the world than the romans ever did. [laughter] so you turn the independent freedom fighter into the ancestor of the british empire by an appalling slight of hand, actually. [laughter] i must shut up now, but i think for me though it's not infrastructure, though that's important because it's what first got me into the romans, you know? it was all i could see around me. i think that where rome has formed western identity -- you know better than me, i think, in
this country -- is not so much in infrastructure, it's in the conversation that we still have with the romans about how politics and civic values work. and i think it's very interesting in the states, an american audience are much more receptive to this than british ones. british ones always think about aqueducts -- [laughter] american audiences think about the senate and the capitol and the idea of how you create community. in many ways, i think, what we really are the heir of is roman debate. you know, we're not simple kind of dupes who are sort of taken in by the romans, about what it is to be a citizen, what rights a is citizen has, what liberty is and to what extent, and this
is where i start book in a way, to what extent -- and it's our problem as much as the row monos' -- right, justifiable or necessary to suspend the liberty of the citizen in the interest of protecting the state and homeland security. and we are still talking talkint that in way that is the romans have helped us to talk about. and i think that's the direction i'd go, sadly, rather than aqueducts. >> you can watch this and other programs online at booktv.org. >> here's a look at some upcoming book fairs and festivals happening around the country. the san francisco chronicle is hosting the bay area book festival in downtown berkeley, california, on the first weekend of june. later in june we head to chicago for live coverage of the 32nd annual printers row lit fest featuring amy goodman and